beach story

ponytail, cherub face, striped shirt

looking where you were looking

her investigative steps on wet jagged rocks, peeking around the edge of the cove, into the secluded remains of a sea-ridden fort wall, red stone

the beach stretches to the right where people like ants in the distance colonize the shore, but only two here

all this space and she corners herself at the water, on the rocks

why are you here? you wanted to find the ruin

she seems surprised and curious at what she sees, back turned to you

the sky is grey-blue, introducing the dusk, the waves are steady and white

you start the conversation, talk about what you see and what you’re looking for, did she find it?


you knew this already

where is she from? two smiles

you tell her you are moving to Canada soon, she gives a smile, you are moving to Surrey, you brag that you have friends there who like to do illegal things

her sister lives there but she doesn’t tell you

your skin of tattoos that have seen the sun, sneakers and shorts, heavy adult face and immature eyes, she looks innocent enough to fear you, and it excites you

but she is playful and confident, her steps lead her off the tidal rocks and she gives the conversation a relaxed ending

you take a few steps toward the water to see the red walls, you appraise it for a moment, obligated

her body language says goodbye, but you use your words to disguise your movement, continue the friendliness; you state obvious things

she is turned away, her replies short and bored, her curious poses take in the surrounding cliffs, the far and quiet colony

she turns her head toward your approaching figure and says a purposeful farewell, her steps on the sand languid and calm

her voice is unnaturally confident, it teases you to move closer, walk faster, talk less

you are disobeying her farewell, and it is an understanding

you enjoy it

as you quietly close the distance to her she approaches the steep eroded cliff and begins to climb slowly, as if exploring, sand spilling under every step

but you are there behind her, wordlessly following

she knows she is being chased, still you are both pretending ignorance

you enjoy it

your hands and feet grapple with loose holds, dirt falls into you from above, she has destroyed the ground she took, in the narrow sand passageway

she disappears over the top

and when you reach the same road, she is behind a bend of trees, gone, running silently

you wrongly believe that fear is respect

so you can’t wait to tell the story to your friends

dunedin, 2019

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